Make the Newest Retail Trends Work for You
If you’re in the apparel business, you know that much of retail is suffering. Industry giants like Amazon, Target, and Walmart are some of the only companies consistently seeing growth in recent years. However, brands that, up until recently, have been purely online entities, have produced a large swell of brick-and-mortar stores. Additionally, other stores have seen significant improvements by shifting their focus and creating personalized experiences for consumers.
So the good news is, retail’s not dead yet. However, the traditional way to approach running a retail business may be. To grow your apparel business, all the trends point to customers who are interested in two things: ease and experience. Customers have more apparel options today than ever before, so you need to invest smarter and more strategically to keep up with changing retail trends.
Invest in: your online presence
This doesn’t just mean your e-commerce, social media, and a seamless, easy-to-navigate website, though those are incredibly important. You may find it’s time to embrace AI (artificial intelligence), particularly AR, or augmented reality. This “try before you buy” technology is an amazing way for consumers to get a realistic feel of, say, how a couch will look in their living room or a pair of glasses will look on their face shape.
If your e-commerce game has been strong for a while, you may feel like shipping costs are eating into your profits. Consider shifting your focus to BOPIS vs. home delivery. BOPIS, or Buy Online Pick Up In Store, is a retail trend that’s picking up steam because it provides the consumer with quick product delivery convenience, but saves the company a ton of money.
Delivery costs escalate as more packages come from small trucks with frequent stops, particularly in urban areas. In fact, this is known as the last mile delivery problem, as the last leg of shipping accounts for more than 50% of delivery costs. Even if you incentivize BOPIS with a discount, you’ll still end up saving on delivery, and you’ll also get customers in-store for more buying potential.
Invest in: your in-store experience
In recent years, studies have shown that those in younger generations prefer experiences over things. But because everyone still needs to make purchases, shopping that has an experiential feeling has become popular for many. The most common way to make your business feel more like an experience is by investing in renovations. It may seem counterintuitive, but remodels that sacrifice some of the selling space to help create a stronger, more cohesive, and even, dare we say, Instagrammable vibe, can drive sales.
Another way to amplify your in-store experience without spending remodel costs, is by having your staff adopt more of a stylist’s mindset. This could mean creating a more thorough focus on customer service, or even allowing clients to schedule personalized or private shopping and styling sessions. Create the feel of a hands-on, personalized, and exclusive experience to stand out from the businesses with a mass and impersonal target.
And, of course, part of an in-store experience is the ease the customers should feel. Having a high-performing POS system, as well as offering a variety of payment methods, particularly with a digital wallet, is essential for growth. Be sure to integrate your gift cards and loyalty programs into these systems.
Invest in: your product offerings
This investment may provide a bit more time and effort on your part, but it can be well worth it.
Personalized and customizable garments are a great way to make customers feel like something was made just for them, though the real industry trends are moving toward changes in your sourcing decisions. Buying clothing that is fair trade or sustainable is a substantially growing interest. This may take time, but try to find factories and mills that emphasize fair working conditions, use less damaging chemicals, and minimize water usage.
Attitudes are rapidly changing and consumers are largely willing to spend more on eco-friendly and sustainable products, so you may want to aim to meet these rising demands before you get left behind.
If you need financing to keep up with shifts in the apparel business, contact Holman Business Services today to talk about what loan options we can offer your business.